Austin

The Best Places to Watch Fireworks in Austin

Ring in America's 246th birthday with style.

Austin Symphony Orchestra
Austin Symphony Orchestra
Austin Symphony Orchestra

In summer, there are only two times of day most Texans will step outside (unless tubing or a swimming hole is involved)-before dawn and after dusk. Otherwise, it’s AC all the way. That’s why fireworks events are so much fun. We not only get to stretch our legs in the great outdoors, enjoy fabulous company, and feast on anything with cheese, we get to watch things explode. This year’s July Fourth fireworks are back-once again at Auditorium Shores. If it’s your first time, by all means, get in early (like, super early) to snag a spot at the official celebration. But if you want our advice, make like a veteran Austinite and go for one of the less busy, way more fun, alternative spots. You’ll beat the crowds, bring your own food and drink, and have a far more wonderful time, without the stress of parking, we promise. Here’s our pick of the best places to catch the fireworks.

Downtown’s rooftop bars: Geraldine’s, Rules & Regs, and Edge

The downtown hotels perched on the lake all boast excellent views across from Auditorium Shores. Head for their rooftop bars if the ground floor patios don’t suffice. Our pick of the bunch include¬†Geraldine’s atop Hotel Van Zandt, known for their excellent live music program; Rules & Regs atop Fairmont Austin, adjacent to the largest hotel pool downtown; and Edge atop JW Marriott, which knocks out a delicious Pi√Īa Colada. If you’re feeling extra splashy, you and your pals can book a top-floor room facing the action.

Downtown’s apartment buildings

Thankfully, not all the lakefront real estate opposite Auditorium Shores is made up of hotels. There are also a number of apartment buildings worth nagging your connections to let you come watch the fireworks. The best for unobstructed views are the two Gables buildings by Lamar Blvd Bridge. Just stock up a YETI full of treats, find a spot, and your private party is all set.

Lady Bird Lake Trail

One of our fave options (and easiest for last-minute planning) is the 10-mile Lady Bird Lake Trail that lines the areas surrounding all the action. Bring a blanket and have a picnic while you wait for the show to commence, or get some extra steps in with a stroll over to Austin’s beloved Lick Honest Ice Creams.

Flickr/Chris Zerbes
Flickr/Chris Zerbes
Flickr/Chris Zerbes

Ladybird lake

To beat the crowds with the same Lady Bird Lake Trail idea, why not see the show from the water itself? You can rent a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard from spots like Austin Rowing Club, or if you’re a true Austinite, bring your own inflatable. We suggest starting at S. First Street, paddling to S. Lamar Blvd, and finishing at Lou Neff Point, a shallow part of the lake where revellers often congregate. For an elevated modification, rent a boat. Virgin Experiences offer private dinner cruises for up to four people, so you can come close enough to hear the Austin Symphony Orchestra live.

Congress Bridge

If you’re new in town or are hosting visitors, then you might as well kill two bats with one stone. (Metaphorically speaking, of course.) Congress Bridge is where the tourists line up to see thousands of Mexican Free-tailed bats emerge for their nightly feeding. This only happens in the warmer months at dusk, so following the bat show, you may as well stick around on Congress Bridge for the fireworks display.

Barton Creek Square Mall

It may be behind the main event, but when it comes to fireworks there is no backward view. This secret spot is a favourite of locals looking for quick viewing in the comfort of their vehicle-the parking lot usually has excellent vistas of the sparkling sky. Best of all, you have access to refreshments and bathrooms in the mall.

Zilker Park, Rock Island Park, and Deep Eddy Park

In a similar vein to the trails, gather your pals and picnic at one of the loop’s adjoining parks. Zilker, Rock Island, and Deep Eddy have some of the best views, and chances are you’ll have a celebratory crowd of new pals to mingle with. Y’all might wanna stop off at Austin Eastciders for a few extra cans on the way.

Austin

Get Lucky at These Irish Bars in Austin

Drink a green pint on St Patrick's Day at these Irish bars in Austin.

Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel

In the midst of all the SXSW chaos, it helps to remember that there’s a rainbow at the festival’s end-that is, the hangover-blessing we’ve been granted of having St. Patrick’s Day 2023 fall on a Friday. Whether you attribute this small win to the Gregorian calendar or the luck of the Irish, it’s sure to amp up the already liver-damaging activities associated with this cultural celebration. However, √Čire is more than just leprechauns and Colin Farrell-it’s a breathtaking land full of warm, welcoming, and good-hearted people. Fortunately, there’s a way you can get a taste of the Republic’s spirit, and a dark stout, at the same time by hitting up one of Austin’s various Irish pubs. From cozy, intimate spaces decked out like small taverns in Cobh, to modern dives with all the party energy of Temple Bar, our list has the best spots in the city to “erin go bragh” all out on March 17.

Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys
Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys
Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys

B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub at Mueller

Mueller
With a giant model of a beer tap literally decorating their front door, you can’t miss B.D Riley’s, nor doubt that this East Austin hang is a spot to down some serious brewskis. And its name, and perfect pours of Guinness, aren’t the only aspects they draw from the Emerald Isle-the entire pub itself was actually designed and built in Dundalk, Ireland, and shipped over for assembly in Bat City. Such authentic decor calls for equally authentic sounds, therefore, on St. Patrick’s Day, B.D. Riley’s will feature an all-day, four-artist bill of live, trad-inspired music. So, while you may not start the day knowing all the words to “The Galway Girl,” you are bound to sing along by last call.

Kelly’s Irish Pub

Bouldin Creek
Having only opened this past December, Kelly’s is the new kid with a brogue on the block. Occupying the space which formerly housed tapas restaurant Winebelly, this pub had big shoes to fill for South Austin barflies, but quickly won them over with an impressive whiskey selection and friendly atmosphere. A big reason behind the real deal √Čire vibes can, most likely, be chalked up to the fact that one of Kelly’s owners was actually born and bred in Ireland-and the dedication to delivering a true-to-life experience is evident in everything from the shepherd’s pie to the witty bartenders. For St. Patrick’s Day, they are getting the party started early with live music and an opening time of 8 am.

Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger's
Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger’s
Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger’s

Jack & Ginger’s

The Domain
While The Domain may boast more bars than you can shake a shamrock at, there’s only one spot in the North Austin entertainment behemoth that can be properly called an Irish pub: Jack & Ginger’s. Start off the night with selecting a tasting flight from their over 82 beers on tap, then, move onto shots poured straight from their Irish Whiskey Tours-after loosening up with a round or two, you might just find yourself with the gift of gab. And, before snapping a selfie over Jack & Ginger’s see-through glass floor, balance out that buzz with food offerings like a giant soft pretzel or a round of fried pickles.

Photo courtesy of Foxy's Proper Pub
Photo courtesy of Foxy’s Proper Pub
Photo courtesy of Foxy’s Proper Pub

Foxy’s Proper Pub

Downtown
Here’s a spot that visibly radiates with Irish pride-at Foxy’s, the glow of green beams out from the bar’s lighted panels, and across their chandelier made of Jameson bottles. When it comes to cups and chow, their commitment to the theme continues-the use of the word,”proper,” in the pub’s name alone indicates you’re in for a heavy pour of the standards. Consequently, the taps are abundant with essential Irish sips, including Guinness, Magners, and Smithwick’s. With Lone Star on draft, there’s also a nod to Texas tradition as well. But don’t fear if you’re bored of beer-Foxy’s variety of whiskey-based cocktails will let you switch it up (and still keep it Celtic). March 17 will find them celebrating with live music, whiskey tastings, and swag giveaways.

Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel

Cork & Barrel Craft Kitchen + Microbrewery

Round Rock
Compared to a flight to Dublin, the 30-minute drive to Round Rock’s Cork & Barrel is much more convenient-not to mention, won’t require waiting in a TSA line. A mix between a modern Austin beer garden and a historical Irish pub, this spot’s spacious interior and expansive outdoor patio guarantees there will be enough room for the whole crew to cheer “sl√°inte.” And, their microbrewery’s signature beers are the ideal drinks to do such a toast with. The menu of specially crafted drafts includes a blueberry wheat, an Irish red ale, and a vanilla stout. This St. Patrick’s Day also marks Cork & Barrel’s two-year anniversary, and they are throwing down for the double-celebration with live music, yard games, Irish food specials, and plentiful amounts of green beer and Irish Car Bombs.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Molly Moltzen is a Thrillist contributor.

Related

Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.